Top five tips for communicating with families online

Top five tips for communicating with families online

By Kids in Museums


Based on regular consultation with families about what they want to see from museum and heritage sites Jocelyn Murdoch, Content and Communications Manager at Kids in Museums outlines top tips to communicate your offer. First published on the Cultural Content newsletter of digital specialists One Further.

1. Understand families’ motivations for visiting your site and be inclusive in your language and imagery

In our Manifesto consultation, families said what they liked most about visiting museums was spending time together. They enjoyed using interactives and getting hands onlearning new things, doing family trails or activities, and visiting the shop or café.

However, we also know there are barriers to families visiting, ranging from attitudinal to economic. Families told us their biggest concerns were cost, getting there, access for buggies or wheelchairs, and being unsure if it is child friendly. There can be an expectation that museums are stuffy or boring, and concerns about being judged for their behaviour, particularly around children being too loud or touching something they shouldn’t.

Our online communications should help build on families' motivations for visiting and allay some of their fears. Your content should also take into account that families come in all shapes and sizes, which should be reflected in your language and your imagery. Are your images inclusive of different types of families and representative of your local community? Do they avoid gender stereotypes?

2. Tailor your website for families

Your website is the number one place families look for information about your museum. I always remember a great quote from the Culture Comms conference - social media is your voice; your website is your authority. People trust what they see on your website.

As soon as a potential visitor lands on your website, they start to build up a sense of whether your physical site is for them. Does your home page include images of children and families getting hands on, links to family friendly events or information about your ticketing? Does your main navigation menu include a link to a Families web page for them to find out more?


A screenshot from the London Museum of Water and Steam families page. The page shows 'Top things for families' and lists 5 "top things" for babies including step free routes and changing tables
London Museum of Water & Steam’s families page


Creating a dedicated web page for families shows this audience is actively welcomed and considered. You can bring together all relevant information for this group and make it as easy as possible for them to find what they need. This could include information about your regular family programme, the best things to see and do with kids, your facilities like baby change or buggy parking, FAQs, and a link to your family events. You could also add a children or family filter on your events page.

The London Museum of Water and Steam website is a great example and includes a page breaking down a museum visit for different age groups. We have a family web page template on our website to help you.

Family web page template on the Kids in Museums website
Family web page template on the Kids In Museums website

3. Set up a family mailing list

With the current uncertainty around certain social media platforms, this is a good time to consider building your other channels. Though it may seem time consuming, setting up a dedicated family newsletter can be one of the most effective ways of engaging your family audience.

Through an email marketing platform, like MailChimp, you can design and schedule your content and manage your subscribers. Set up an email template that includes your branding and links to key information.

Keep your copy concise with a clear call to action and time your mailings thoughtfully around half terms and school holidays to maximise their impact. This is not about quantity - you should always have a strong reason for getting in touch.

Promote and collect sign ups at your family events, on social media and on your website. You could offer a discount for your café or shop as an incentive to subscribe.

4. Meet families where they are online

After your website and newsletter, families were most likely to use Facebook to find out information about your museum. An advantage of Facebook is that there are often existing groups or pages for families in your local area where you may be able to share your posts. Facebook also allows you to share your family activities as events, meaning users can see and respond to them online.

You could consider setting up a museum family Facebook page or group, particularly if your website is difficult for you to edit. The Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle has a separate Facebook page, The Great North Mouse, for families.

A screenshot of the Great North Mouse facebook page, for the Great North Museum
The Great North Mouse facebook page, for the Great North Museum


Remember social media is about having a conversation. Make sure you engage with visitor posts by liking, sharing or replying to them, just as your front of house staff would engage with visitors. Try creating dedicated selfie points at your museum or providing props, like a giant photo frame, to encourage families to share their visit.

5. Show that you are human on social media

Across all the platforms highlighted above, the most important consideration is your tone of voice. Show your followers that you understand children and family life, that you are friendly and approachable. Acknowledge family milestones like the start of new school terms and how your venue fits into them, like this Instagram post from the Museum of Liverpool:
Instagram post from Museum of Liverpool, the caption reads "Good luck to all the new starters and those returning back to school after the hols."

or this one from the Story Museum in Oxford, linking to the collection...

Instagram post from the Story Museum, the caption begins "Good luck to everyone starting school next week, especially those who will be walking through the doors for the very first time!"

We also enjoy these museum play ‘before and afters’ in this tweet from Coventry Transport Museum, showing that play is not only allowed, but encouraged, in the museum.

Consider creating content with children, young people and families. Our annual Kids in Museums Takeover Day is a great way to show you value young and family voices, gain a better understanding of what interests young people at your site and create really fun, entertaining content. We love this video from Yorkshire Museum sharing what children think of the collections.

Communicating with families online should be about more than sharing your family events. It is using a combination of these tools to build awareness of your venue as a family friendly location.

You can read more on Kids in Museums website in our Marketing your museum to families online resource.

Jocelyn Murdoch, Content and Communications Manager, Kids in Museums 

First published in the Cultural Content newsletter of digital specialists One Further. Subscribe to Cultural Content.
Resource type: Guide/tools | Published: 2023